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Kidnappers car pulled from canal: No Juliani
Juliani Cardenas1
Juliani Cardenas

Shortly after 6 p.m. Friday, divers recovered the silver Toyota Corolla that Jose Esteban Rodriguez was last seen driving after he took 4-year-old Juliani Cardenas from the arms of his grandmother on Jan. 18 in Patterson.

However, no bodies were found in the vehicle, reported Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson. He said the search of the canal will continue today.

After days of searching the Delta-Mendota Canal, a diver found the Toyota around 11:30 a.m. on Friday. Crews then worked into the foggy evening to remove the car.

In an earlier press conference, Christianson said the process of finding and removing the suspect’s car took so long because, “These are very, very difficult conditions in which to search.”

The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department began dredging the Delta-Mendota Canal after a farmworker reported seeing a similar vehicle drive into the canal. The farmworker also said there was a man and a child in the vehicle, according to the sheriff’s department.

Rodriguez is the ex-boyfriend of Juliani’s mother, Tabitha Cardenas.

Cardenas said during an interview on the “Nancy Grace Show” on CNN on Friday that she believes her son could still be alive and law enforcement should be checking the borders.

“We’re all praying for the best,” Cardenas said during the interview.

To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.